Very Virgo, INTJ, Obliger. All phrases I’ve seen pop up on social media bios, dating profiles and even professional work websites of late. In a world where marketing yourself in limited characters is a skill in itself, it’s becoming increasingly common to rely on these types of personality tools as a shortcut for explaining who you are. Call it narcissistic navel-gazing or fundamental self-discovery (or, more likely, something in the middle), humans are continually fascinated by dissecting me, myself and I, and, as such, are naturally drawn to systems that help join the personal dots. Whether it’s astrology, Myers Briggs (the 16 personality type test) or The Four Tendencies (a personality framework designed by happiness expert Gretchen Rubin), these systems, somewhat satisfyingly, are built to enable one to live your life more authentically.
The latest method grabbing attention? Human Design. A relatively new modality that fuses different ancient philosophies, including astrology, the chakra system, ancient Chinese philosophy I Ching, and the Kabbalah Tree of Life (a system that stems from Jewish mysticism). Its origins may sound a little woo-woo but stick with us. The system was created by a Canadian man in Ibiza, who went by the name of Ra Uru Hu, after an experience during an eight-day meditation in 1987. He spent the remaining 25 years of his life perfecting it. Much like with astrology, a Human Design chart is based on your time and place of birth (find yours here).
The chart itself is complex – made up of nine centres, thirty six channels, and sixty four gates – but to start with there are three key things to understand: your ‘type’, inner authority and profile. The five types (Generators, Manifestors, Manifesting Generators, Projectors, Reflectors) are what garner the most attention amongst Human Design novices. These are essentially your energy types and refer to how you behave and act in the world.
For Olivia Iasonos, who left a corporate law career to become a human design reader after discovering her chart, it’s simply a self-awareness tool. “It gives us clues to navigate life in a way which is unique to ourselves. It shows you how you can make decisions, create satisfaction, make peace, find success and discover delight,” she said. Unlike other types of spiritual practices, it doesn’t demand full commitment. “It is not a system that expects us to believe in it but experiment with it,” Iasonos noted.
Reading up on my type, a Projector, one major thing stood out and hooked me in. “Works better intensively for a short period of time, but not for a long period of time.” I always struggled with traditional office jobs (a classic Projector trait) and now, as a freelance journalist, I love being able to write in hour-long blocks with no distractions and proper breaks in between. Knowing this was suited to my type was liberating and reassuring. Maybe those indulgent lunchtime baths didn't mean I was lazy, rather, using my energy correctly?
Projectors along with Reflectors (21% of the population) are what Human Design refer to as "non-energy beings", whereas Generators, Manifestors, Manifesting Generators (79%) are "energy beings". While the former is more about seeing and reflecting (a skill I hopefully put to use by writing for a living), the latter is about go-getting and doing.
By researching online or by having a reading with a trained human design expert, you can dig deeper into your chart and start to understand the other elements beyond the five types. For instance, your Inner Authority sheds light on how you make decisions. “This could be getting clear on what’s going on emotionally, trusting your gut feeling, using intuitive wisdom, speaking things out with other people or following your heart,” Iasonos described. Mine is called Emotional/Solar Plexus Authority, the most common type of decision making which is based on feeling emotions fully before acting. It’s about mulling things over, feeling emotions fully and waiting before coming to a decision (I've certainly been burned multiple times by sending a rushed response to an email or WhatsApp when, really, I should have just slept on it.)
There’s also the profile, two numbers which together give insights on your personality type. As a number three, I supposedly crave variety and new experiences. I’ve lived in seven flats in ten years and the commitment of a full-time job scares me much more than the instability of a freelance one, so this definitely rings true.
Much like any of these non-scientific systems, cynics will roll their eyes and say it's simply confirmation bias (focusing on the evidence that confirms our beliefs). Either way, I don’t think it really matters. Sometimes we all need an external force to give us the confidence to be more comfortable in our own skin, especially after a lifetime of societal conditioning suggesting that some trajectories (whether that’s buying a house, having children or an on-paper ‘good job’) are more successful than others (“when we develop trust in life and courage in our unique skills and abilities, we can shine,” lasonos says).
After a year of pandemic-included reflection, this resonates now more than ever. “People have been given the chance to get off the treadmill and more are asking ‘Am I really happy with my life?’ Tools like Human Design give us some of the answers.” On that note, it is time I conserve my energy with an afternoon bath...